As we all settle back into semester two and have to acclimatise to the reading, the essays, the stressing about reading and essays, I thought I’d bring you a sample of TV you can indulge and escape in over the course of the year.
This is a bit of an eclectic selection but I hope it provides some viewing inspiration and gets you looking forward to what promises to be another golden year for TV.
Firstly, expected to be released in early 2019 is Englistan. Riz Ahmed has partnered with BBC 2 to bring nine 60 minute episodes to our screens detailing the story of three generations of a British Pakistani family. The series will follow them through four turbulent decades of economic boom and bust, political movements, assimilation and soul searching. In re-framing recent British history Englistan will bring into light the forces that have formed our society. Riz Ahmed has been involved in many interesting projects, including a superb turn in Nightcrawler, so it is exciting now to see him at the helm of his own project. We don’t know whether Ahmed will be appearing in the series himself but it’s always good to see some fresh new writing on our screens.
Hopping over to BBC 1 and moving just an hour down the round is The Victim. A drama set in Edinburgh from the mind of Rob Williams (The Man in The High Castle) it stars stalwarts of Scottish acting Kelly Macdonald and John Hannah and also rising star James Harkness. Focusing on Anna Dean, the mother of a nine-year old boy murdered fifteen years earlier by another child, The Victim delves into the Scottish legal system and its ambiguities. Opening in Edinburgh’s High Court Anna has been accused of revealing the identity of her son’s murderer online. Concurrently, family man Craig Myers is attacked after being identified online as a notorious child murder under a new identity. Is he an innocent victim of mistaken identity or actually the murderer he has been branded as? Has Anna committed a crime and if so what exactly is it she’s guilty of? Exactly who the victim is, in The Victim, is unclear and put under scrutiny. With its eye on the complexities of the internet’s intrusion into the realm of law and justice it seems to capture the zeitgeist.
Coming to Amazon Prime in the spring, and the BBC afterwards, is the hotly anticipated Good Omens. The show is based on a fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The six episode long arch stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen and boasts a huge number of big names amongst its cast. Good Omens is set in 2018 as humanity prepares for a looming apocalypse. An unlikely duo of an angel (Sheen) and demon (Tennant) team up to try and halt the end of the world. With the state of the world is in at the moment, the impending doom of Good Omens may feel a little too close to home. Yet the cast and creative minds behind this show make any dread outweighed with glee.
It’s not just thoughts of apocalypse that can be a bit bleak. Being in the midst of the winter months things can make things feel a little dreary. What we all need is a bit of frivolous escapism. Basically, we need Love Island. As with the Queen’s birthday, bikini-clad reality trash should also be a biannual affair. Luckily the bosses at E4 agree and are bringing us a rebooted Shipwreck. Much like Love Island, but on a beach instead of by a pool and a little less focussed on couplings, Shipwreck first aired in 2000 and is now back to bring us some light hearted high-jinks. Shipwreck began on 28th January so it’s not too late to indulge in some binge watching to catch up.
Finally, I feel that this list would be incomplete without mentioning the undisputed television event of 2019. The series finale of Game of Thrones will finally grace our screens on the 14th April. Put the date in your diaries and prepare yourself for the spectacle.
This eighth and final season will only have six episodes, but with all of them over 60 minutes and some rumoured to be feature length, it is exciting to see the boundaries of TV continually being pushed as it increasingly blurs lines with the cinematic.
So, this rounds up my highlights of TV to look forward to in 2019. The list is by no means exhaustive, we have a George Clooney Catch-22 coming to Channel 4, an adaptation of What We Do in the Shadows, Groundog Day-esque Russian Doll coming to Netflix, and many more brilliant works. With all this to boot there is certainly a lot to look forward to. And this is why I love Television: for making fascinating stories, and artistic visions, and whatever you can class Shipwreck as, accessible to all.